5 Techniques to Stop Making Excuses for Not Taking Action on Your Big Goals

Published on
Mar 5, 2023
Written by
Coryne Forest
Personal Development

Last week, I confessed that I’m an optimist.

This week, I am totally owning that I am a planner, too.  On the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, this is represented by the Judging-Perceiving dichotomy and it assigns you a number from zero to thirty.  I was a 28 on the J scale.  

That’s a serious planner!

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry said:

“A goal without a plan is just a dream”.

Turns out, I’m not much of a dreamer.  I turn those dreams into goals, those goals into plans and those plans into action.

Unfortunately, that’s just the beginning of the journey because a lot of things get in the way of taking action.  

Let’s talk about that just in case you are the master of making excuses!

Do you have a reason for every occasion when asked why you haven’t taken action on your Big Goals yet? If so, it’s time to take action. Those Big Goals have waited long enough. Today is the day your life changes! How? Keep reading to learn some exciting techniques I’ve used in the past to get your life back on track in no time.

Be You

If you think you can’t get anywhere because someone else already did it better, well think again. Regardless of who you’re comparing yourself to, no one will tackle a problem in the same way you will. Instead, relax and jump into action your way. See where being you can take you.

The CEO of PurposePoint, Davin Salvagno, recently gave me a really useful analogy.  He said that all Italian restaurants use the same ingredients and, yet, each one puts those ingredients together in totally unique ways.  That’s why some Italian restaurants are amazing, and some are just…meh.  

It doesn’t matter who has done what in the past, go out there and put things together in your unique way.  It’s the only way to be amazing.

Step into the Unknown

Holding back because you don’t know what happens next? Sometimes you just have to find your hidden adventurer. Indulge your curiosity and jump into doing something new just to find out what happens. Besides, how unknown is it? If you’ve done your research, you probably already have a pretty good idea of just what’s going to happen.

When I was 24 years into my engineering career, I started looking around for the next challenge.  It came when the head of Organization Development tapped me on the shoulder and said “We’ve been watching you for a while, and you lead differently.  How would you like to come teach other engineers and scientists how to be humans that others actually want to follow?”

Talk about a tangent to the path I had been on!  But I didn’t hesitate for very long (2 days, tops) before putting the plan into motion.  I learned to rely on my ability to “figure things out”.  

And you know what?  That’s the day my career became my calling.  I may have been a good engineer and a decent leader.  But stepping into the role of helping other technical people embrace the people side of tech leadership? Now that just lit me up from the inside!

You never know what’ll happen when your inner adventurer comes out to play!

Take Responsibility

Feeling trapped into a cycle of not being able to act because someone else is holding you back? This is just another version of the blame game. Really, the one holding you back when you make these statements is you. You’re where you are because you put yourself there. The key is to start making choices to move from this spot.

One reflective exercise I did years ago made me realize that every single one of my big career moves had been instigated by me.  When I didn’t feel challenged, when I couldn’t tolerate my boss, or coworkers, or team anymore, I made a change.  No excuses, no “if only…”, no victim.  I am responsible for my own happiness and if I wasn’t happy, I made a change.  

You, too, can be the creator of the life you want!

Break Things Down

Can’t start because you’re overwhelmed? Chop up the goal into a series of much smaller action steps. Take things in small bites, celebrating each milestone as you reach it. You’ll get to the goal eventually, just hang in there.

Of course, I love this one!  It’s all about the planning! If you can’t see the next step, try working backwards.  For example, if I set a goal to write a book, that’s big and scary and overwhelming.  If I start to break it down, I get to 1) plan it out 2) develop an outline 3) write.  Okay, that’s the scary one.  What if, based on my outline, it’s three sections.  I work backwards.  Each section is X chapters, each chapter is broken into three parts.  This week I write one part of one chapter.  And so on.  All of a sudden writing a book isn’t scary, it’s an actionable plan.

Do Something!

In the end, you have to act. Making excuses about being tired or not having time isn’t going to cut it. If something is important to you, fatigue doesn’t matter. We all have the same 24 hours in the day and you get to choose what you spend them on.  If it’s important, you’ll make the time (like you did when you binge-watched an entire series on Netflix). The key is to take the first step. Guaranteed, the next steps will come much easier once you’re already in motion.

By using these techniques, you’ll find you no longer need excuses. In fact, you’re probably feeling kind of eager to get to work about now. This is a good thing! So, dust off those Big Goals, because good things are about to start happening!

Special shout out to Nick Craig and his Purpose to Impact workshop!  You really gave me the shot I needed to create my next adventure and, in fact, inspired this article!

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